Well well…the deadline has passed, and it appears all the qualifying offers are in:
- Brett Anderson, SP (Dodgers)
- Wei-Yin Chen, SP (Orioles)
- Chris Davis, 1B (Orioles)
- Ian Desmond, SS (Nationals)
- Marco Estrada, SP (Blue Jays)
- Dexter Fowler, OF (Cubs)
- Yovani Gallardo, SP (Rangers)
- Alex Gordon, OF (Royals)
- Zack Greinke, SP (Dodgers)
- Jason Heyward, OF (Cardinals)
- Hisashi Iwakuma, SP (Mariners)
- Howie Kendrick, 2B (Dodgers)
- Ian Kennedy, SP (Padres)
- John Lackey, SP (Cardinals)
- Daniel Murphy, 2B/3B (Mets)
- Colby Rasmus, OF (Astros)
- Jeff Samardzija, SP (White Sox)
- Justin Upton, OF (Padres)
- Matt Wieters, C (Orioles)
- Jordan Zimmermann, SP (Nationals)
In previous blogs, we talked about guys like Jason Heyward and Jordan Zimmermann who could be had by the Chicago Cubs this winter if they’re willing to surrender their first round pick next year (currently, #28 overall). The Cubs were willing to part with a draft pick last year (albeit a protected first-rounder, so they would’ve just coughed up the second-rounder) to try to sign Russell Martin before the Toronto Blue Jays blew them out of the water. There are various options, like David Price, who won’t be subject to draft pick compensation, and it’s worthwhile to note that Denard Span won’t have a QO attached, since he’s been often talked about as a target for the Cubs. Oft-discussed Ben Zobrist, who is the original Ben Zobrist, will also be free of draft compensation.
We can take these 20 guys and suggest a few tiers of Cubs targets…
Honestly, most of the pitchers not named Zack Greinke or Jordan Zimmermann are likely not on the Cubs’ radar because again, without the ability to protect their first-rounder, and with only so much money to throw around, would they be willing to give up an early pick for a middle-of-the-rotation guy? I don’t really think so. Also, guys like Daniel Murphy aren’t that good at defense and I doubt the bat stays as blistering hot as it did this postseason. In addition, a few of these pitchers are on the way-wrong side of 30, so if the Cubs are going to commit big money, they’re going to do it for a younger guy in my opinion.
Jeff Samardzija has been talked about in some circles, but after a not-so-good 2015, even with his peripherals obviously out of whack compared to previous seasons, I’d be hesitant to bring him back to the North Side. I know some are thinking about Alex Gordon or Justin Upton, who are still relatively young (especially Upton), but they’re both corner guys and those spots are spoken for on the Cubs…
The Cubs may try to give the Dodgers a run for their money on Zack Greinke, though younger guys like Brett Anderson and Wei-Yin Chen could be had for cheaper. The problem with the latter two is injury history, so the Cubs will obviously have to do their homework. I know Andy’s been interested in moving Miguel Montero, so if that happens that MIGHT put Matt Wieters in play, though Wieters has had his own injury issues. There’s a decent chance the Cubs may elect to bring Dexter Fowler back for continuity’s sake, as well.
I think the Cubs put their chips on Jason Heyward and Jordan Zimmermann, who are both solidly in their primes and could solve a few problems. Even though Heyward isn’t a true center fielder, he seems to have good instincts and could hold the fort until the Cubs decide to trade Jorge Soler or something. Zimmermann did have Tommy John surgery a few years back but hasn’t seemed to suffer any negative effects since then as he has been very consistently solid-to-awesome.
I think the Cubs have money to throw around, but they likely only want to give up just one pick. It seems like a winter full of trades is more likely than splurging on QO’d free agents like other teams in the past, but I expect to see a solid run at a few of the “better odds” and “primary target” guys. Ultimately the Cubs SHOULD land one of those, and if not, maybe they just bring home Price and Zobrist (maybe Span) and call it a day. Or they’ll just get them all. Who knows? That’s what makes the winter fun…and sometimes disappointing when our expectations get too crazy.